Helping at Home
What you can do to help develop reading and writing?
First and foremost we like to encourage parents to read with children at home as often as possible. Ruth Miskin suggests that children gain a great deal from knowing a short number of stories very well. Familiarity with these stories can help children to understand how stories are structured and the different kind of genres they may encounter. Your children will be read all of these books while on the Read Write Inc programme at Leesons.
Your child can read their book to you or you could read a book to your child, especially if your child seems tired and irritable. Online literacy games are great, but remember: There is no app to replace your lap – read to your child!
Build a climate of words at home
- Go places and see things with your child, then talk about what has been seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched.
- The basis of good writing and communications is being a confident speaker and listener, skills that they will need in every area of the curriculum and all through their lives. Talk through everyday activities with them, give them a range of words that mean the same thing (synonyms) or opposite (antonyms). Having a broad and varied vocabulary will support them in every aspect of school life.
Let children see you write often
- You're both a model and a teacher. If children never see adults write, they gain an impression that writing occurs only at school.
- What you do is as important as what you say.
- Have children see you writing notes to friends, letters to business firms, perhaps stories to share with the children, or write one together.
- From time to time, read aloud what you have written and ask your children their opinion of what you've said. If it's not perfect, so much the better.
- Making changes in what you write confirms for the child that revision is a natural part of writing -- which it is.
Be as helpful as you can in helping children write
- Talk through their ideas with them; help them discover what they want to say.
- When they ask for help with spelling, punctuation, and usage, supply that help. Your most effective role is not as a critic but as a helper.
- Rejoice in effort, delight in ideas, and resist the temptation to be critical.
Provide a suitable place for children to write
- A quiet corner is best, the child's own place, if possible. If not, any flat surface with elbow room, a comfortable chair, and a good light will do.
Give your child, and encourage others to give, the gifts associated with writing
- pens of several kinds
- pencils of appropriate size and hardness
- a desk lamp
- pads of paper, stationery, envelopes -- even stamps
- a booklet for a diary or daily journal (make sure that the booklet is the child's private property; when children want to share, they will.)
- a dictionary appropriate to the child's age and needs. Most dictionary use is for checking spelling, but a good dictionary contains fascinating information on word origins, synonyms, pronunciation, and so forth.
- a thesaurus for older children. This will help in the search for the "right" word.
Encourage (but do not demand) frequent writing and be patient with reluctance to write
"I have nothing to say" is a perfect excuse. Recognize that the desire to write is a sometime thing. There will be times when a child "burns" to write; others, when the need is cool. But frequency of writing is important to develop the habit of writing.
Give them reasons to write e.g. writing a message for a birthday card, thank you notes and letters of kindness this could help them out when they are unsure of what to write or where to start.
Praise the child's efforts at writing
- Forget what happened to you in school and resist the tendency to focus on errors of spelling, punctuation, and other mechanical aspects of writing.
- Emphasize the child's successes.
- Use the rule of 'one to three' for every error you discuss talk about three elements that you are impressed with. This way they will have a strong understanding of what they can do and know that they can work on other areas to improve.
Share letters from friends and relatives
- Treat such letters as special events.
- Urge relatives and friends to write notes and letters to the child, no matter how brief. Writing is especially rewarding when the child gets a response.
- When thank-you notes are in order, after a holiday especially, sit with the child and write your own notes at the same time. Writing ten letters (for ten gifts) is a heavy burden for the child; space the work and be supportive.
Occasions when the child can be involved in writing
Encourage your child to write by allowing them to:
- Help with grocery lists
- Add notes at the end of parents' letters
- Send holiday and birthday cards
- Take down telephone messages or write notes to friends
- Help plan trips by writing for information
- Draft notes to school for parental signature
- Prepare invitations to family get-togethers
Writing for real purposes is rewarding
The daily activities of families present many opportunities for purposeful writing. Involving your child may take some coaxing, but it will be worth your patient effort.
Common Exception Words
Children are required, by the end of Key Stage One, to read and write the Year One and Year Two Common Exception Words (tricky words for short). A list of these words can be found on the Year One and Year Two class pages. These words cannot be sounded out and need to be memorised by sight.
- Start by introducing one word every two days and revisiting it.
- Write it on Post-it notes and stick it around the house.
- Use this to play a game of timed hide- and-seek. You hide the words and your child has to find and read them.
- Children could ‘paint’ the words on walls outside – using water or write it in the mud outside.
Paper based, as well as online, activities can be found on the web. Here are some suggestions:
Teach Your Monster to Read is a free website that supports learning to read at home. The website requires registration, but is free to use.
Phonics Play has some games that are free to play online. Children have to sound out and blend words and decide whether they are alien words or real words.
Dance Mat Typing - Practise your typing skills here.
Woodlands Junior - Practice lots of different Literacy skills here.
Book Reviews - Read book reviews here.
ICT Games Literacy - Learn whilst having fun!
BBC Bitesize - A website to help with reading, writing & spelling.
Need some help?
Here are some clips, as found on the Ruth Miskin website, that may help: